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President’s call for a 2011 Korea FTA vote not sitting well in House Dem caucus

July 6, 2010

The three pending free trade agreements (FTAs) are worth about $3 billion a year in additional U.S. agricultural export sales.

The Panama agreement has been held up over concerns about the Central American nation’s status as a tax haven.   Critics of the Columbia FTA claim that nation isn’t doing enough to crack down on violence against labor leaders.  

Meanwhile, our inability to address the issues and get the FTA to a vote in Congress is beginning to cost us our Columbian corn market.

South Korea’s FTA with the United States has been held up over long standing disputes over how to treat exports of U.S. beef and automobiles into the Korean market.

Farm Bureau and other groups have been urging the administration to address the concerns and bring each of the aging trade deals for votes in Congress.

President Obama announced last week at the G20 summit that he would like to resolve all of the issues surrounding the Korean deal by Nov. 10-11 when the G20 are scheduled to meet in Seoul.     He said he’d like Congress to vote on the deal early next year.

It might not be smooth sailing.

Reuters) – President Barack Obama’s plan to send a free trade pact with South Korea to Congress by early 2011 could spark a major fight within his own Democratic party unless Seoul agrees to major changes in the deal.”There are significant changes that must be made in order for this free trade agreement to gain broad congressional support,” Representative Louise Slaughter, a leader of trade-wary Democrats warned (last) Monday in a statement.

Congressman Phil Hare said he’s concerned about the impact of a Korea FTA on the U.S. auto industry.

Representative Phil Hare, an Illinois Democrat, said approving even a modified trade deal with South Korea was too risky for the bailed out U.S. auto sector.

“America’s auto industry and workforce are finally back on their feet. This trade agreement, even if it is retooled, would knock them down again,” Hare said.

Click here for the June 2010 AFBF trade update.

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